Orgasmo is a 1969 giallo film starring Carroll Baker and Lou Castel and directed by Umberto Lenzi. This film started the second phase of Carroll Baker's career, where she became a regular star in Italian productions.
Italian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Umberto Lenzi|
|Produced by||Salvatore Alabiso|
|Written by||Umberto Lenzi|
Marie Claire Sollenville
|Story by||Umberto Lenzi|
|Music by||Piero Umiliani|
|Edited by||Enzo Alabiso|
Kathryn West, a glamorous American widow, arrives in Italy several weeks after the death of her older, extremely wealthy husband. With the help of Brian, her lawyer, Kathryn moves into a luxurious villa and proceeds to lead a lonely, uneventful existence until one day, a handsome young man named Peter Donovan shows up at the front gate, looking for tools so that he can fix his sports car. Kathryn lets him stay the night, and the next thing she knows, she is madly making love to him in the shower. Peter eventually moves in and is soon joined by a free spirit who he introduces as Eva, his sister. Kathryn enjoys their company and partying with them - until she begins to suspect that Peter and Eva are not what they seem to be, after catching them in bed together. Their relationship turns into a threesome, and when she begins to rebel against them, they keep her a prisoner in the house, doping her up with booze and pills, and depriving her of sleep by continuously playing a maddening pop song ("Anytime"). Kathryn suspects that they are setting her up as a "suicide" for some nefarious reason.
Orgasmo was released in Italy on 7 February 1969. The film's title has led to confusion as on its international release, the film was titled Paranoia. Lenzi's next film (also starring actress Carroll Baker) was titled Paranoia in Italy but was given the international title of A Quiet Place to Kill. The Italian version of Orgasmo has a different ending than the American version.
Like other giallo films, Orgasmo was not popular among the Italian film audiences on its initial theatrical release, as the genre never gained popularity in its home country until the releases of Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), but it was a major hit outside of Italy. Lenzi said, in an interview which accompanied the film's DVD release, that he never liked the title Orgasmo, because he felt it hurt the film's chances of ever being syndicated to Italian TV. Orgasmo was released in France as Une folle envie d'aimer (lit. A mad desire to love).
From contemporary reviews, the Monthly Film Bulletin stated that "this high gloss melodrama rings enough changes on an old theme to keep one watching right up to the grisly retribution of the finale, even if the denouement is a trifle rushed". The review concluded that "it might have been even more enjoyable - on its own low camp level - if Umberto Lenzi had not been so determined to match style to subject, with the camera deliriously sliding in and out of focus as the tormented lady totters down the stairs and every scene shot from behind a bit of the furniture." Roger Ebert gave the film a negative review stating that "Only the haunting memory of Succubus prevents me from naming [Orgasmo] as the worst movie of the year."
From retrospective reviews, the online film database Allmovie gave Orgasmo one star, referring to it as less interesting than Paranoia and stating that "there are some interesting moments, but this is clearly the lesser of the two films."
- "Credits". BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Firsching, Robert. "Orgasmo (1968)". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Firsching, Robert. "Orgasmo (1968)". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Luther-Smith 1999, p. 86.
- Shipka 2011, p. 317.
- Brizio-Skov 2011, p. 64.
- "Orgasmo (Paranoia)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 37 no. 432. British Film Institute. 1970. p. 15.
- Ebert, Roger (August 20, 1969). "Paranoia". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960–1980 (illustrated ed.). McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786448881.
- Brizio-Skov, Flavia (2011). Popular Italian Cinema: Culture and Politics in a Postwar Society. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1848855729.
- Luther-Smith, Adrian (1999). Blood and Black Lace: The Definitive Guide to Italian Sex and Horror Movies. Stray Cat Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-9533261-1-X.